“I rescinded the previous administration’s harmful ban on diversity and sensitivity training,” President Biden said yesterday. In fact, the Trump administration’s EO-13950, which applied to federal agencies and contractors, did not ban diversity training. It banned only the teaching of “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating,” including any of the following lessons:
- One race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.
- An individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.
- Members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex.
- An individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex.
- An individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
- Any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.
- Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race.
Trump’s order was motivated by revelations that federal entities, such as Argonne National Laboratories and the Smithsonian Institution, were teaching exactly some of the divisive concepts listed above. It is those concepts — not the simple lessons about tolerance and respect for others that most people have in mind when they think of diversity training — that Trump banned. Indeed, his order declared that “training employees to create an inclusive workplace is appropriate and beneficial,” and it explicitly allowed diversity programs to continue as long as they did not engage in race- or sex-based stereotyping or scapegoating.
By falsely characterizing Trump’s executive order as a ban on diversity training, Biden has sidestepped the actual issue here — namely, whether the divisive concepts listed above should be taught as facts to federal employees and contractors. For example, is it the official position of the Biden administration that “an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex”? How about the claim that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex”?
It would be helpful if the new administration could tell us which of these teachings it endorses. Surely it must endorse some of them, or it would not have rescinded the order in the first place. In fact, rescinding the order rather than simply modifying it suggests that the administration endorses (or at least does not object to) every divisive concept on that list.